Tell us about the history of Minuteman Press
The company was founded in the US in 1973 and grew to five locations before converting to a franchise model in 1975. The company then converted its five existing company-owned stores to franchisee-owned stores and all outlets since have been franchisee owned.
From the US, Minuteman Press then expanded to Canada and England, and in 1996 the first store opened in South Africa.
In the time since, it’s grown to 47 outlets in South Africa and has continued its international expansion to Australia, Ireland and Scotland.
Each territory has a regional office that answers to the US head office rather than master franchisors. My role as regional VP is to expand our South African footprint, and offer support to existing franchisees with my support team who are highly experienced in the print industry and travel between franchisees.
What makes the Minuteman Press franchise model unique?
We’re quite different in our fees structure compared to other franchises. Royalties and marketing fees are an area where franchisees can get unhappy, no matter the brand or industry.
There will always be complaints that the percentage paid to the franchisor for marketing is not being spent adequately or doesn’t work for the franchisees. Minuteman Press mitigates this by having no marketing fee.
Franchisees are provided with guidelines for marketing campaigns and are free to market their businesses as they see fit. Our proprietary software helps franchisees monitor their campaigns to assess viability and gauge the ROI.
Minuteman Press is a partnership whereby we support franchisees as they grow their own businesses.
This means that we don’t force preferred suppliers on them – we rather provide a list of preferred suppliers, but if you find your own you’re free to use them; we don’t force store outfitting and revamps like the retail and fast food sectors are known to – franchisees are required to retain the Minuteman Press branding and logo, but stores can reflect their own tastes and personality. Because our philosophy is one of partnership and because it’s the new and inexperienced franchisees that require the most support, royalties are capped. Our franchisees pay a 6% royalty that caps at turnover of R190 000 per month.
How do you support your franchisees?
We’ve developed proprietary software that’s been improved upon and modernised to become the most comprehensive print software in the world – it does everything from estimates, to job comps, invoices, statements, production management, marketing scheduling, financial reporting, and everything else that goes into running a Minuteman Press shop.
This means no industry experience is required of our franchisees – in fact 98% of our franchisees come from other industries – because they’re given the training, support and tools for success.
We encourage entrepreneurial flair that’s balanced with ability to follow systems and guidelines since franchisees must be owner-operators.
With the right attitude, proper self-motivation and discipline, Minuteman Press franchisees can be successful business owners. To this end, we select franchisees on attitude and how well they gel with the regional office staff.
When expanding, we ensure every franchisee’s prospective area is properly assessed to ensure it has the right density and mix of small to medium businesses as they make up the core of a franchisee’s business.
If an area has reached saturation, we focus on keeping existing franchisees’ radiuses exclusive and profitable, while tapping new markets for new franchisees.
For new franchisees we assist with area studies, location assessments, and lease negotiations. When it comes to franchisee support, our support staff are 100% flexible and mobile.
If there’s a problem a franchisee calls us up, and if it can’t be resolved on the phone we will physically drive to their store and provide support. Where franchisees are so busy and successful without requiring support, like our top ten performers, we will have scheduled, periodic meetings so as not to cause disruption.
How do franchisees make their money?
Last year one of our franchisees turned over R13 million and it comes from a good mix of B2B relationships with small to medium-sized business, networking, direct and indirect marketing, extensive SEO generated business, website leads, word of mouth referrals by existing clients, and of course walk-ins make up part of the business.
Minuteman Press is a quality driven business and part of the area assessment is doing a pricing survey of competitors to ensure that we’re in the middle to upper third. Being quality driven doesn’t stop at quality output, but is about excellent customer service.
Our ultimate goal is for clients not to think ‘I need printing… Minuteman Press’, then they’re only half way there. We want clients to think, ‘I need printing… Frik’s outlet.’ And if a franchisee doesn’t have the services to complete a job, they have the ‘can do’ attitude and access to reliable vendors who will aid them in being a one-stop-shop for all printing projects.
Surely with everything going digital the print industry is on the downswing?
One would think that, and every year people say we’re moving towards a paperless society, and yet every year paper consumption of the previous year is exceeded by August or September!
What has changed, however, is businesses’ printing behaviour: It’s very much print on demand in much smaller, more frequent and more customised batches and at much shorter notice. Print jobs arrive on USB sticks or Dropbox, and technology and equipment are becoming better, cheaper and more efficient, but there is always a place for printing.
Minuteman Press’s head office in the US has a dedicated R&D department that monitors industry trends and tech advancements, analyses equipment investments in terms of quality output, maintenance costs and manufacturer support and then makes recommendations to its regional offices.
Regional offices then conduct feasibility studies with their franchisees to determine the best equipment purchases or rentals to help their stores become the most efficient, profitable, and best in class.
Minuteman Press head office in the US has a dedicated R&D department researching the latest developments in the print industry to help make the best equipment recommendations for its franchisees.